Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Cottage in the Wintry Woods


After the warmest winter ever, we finally had a big storm this week.
I absolutely love it--especially because I am surrounded by the majestic evergreens.

I wish I could tell you progress was being made on our house, but barely a thing has been done...
and there are mistakes with the parts of the siding that is on.  Boo.

When the snow was falling, I couldn't resist running inside to see what my view will be next winter.
(Look at my pessimism!  I'm sure we won't be in the house this winter. Gee whiz.)

This is the view out back from the living room.  Through the foggy plastic, you can see my fireplace and many a snow-covered tree.

As I stand doing dishes, I'll get to look out upon this:

Upstairs, one looks down upon a magical fairy land.

Oh, someday, someday!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Homemade Play Kitchen

We had a play kitchen once before. Good money was paid for the thing and yet it fell apart.  When it came time to have another, I decided solid oak was the way to go.  
We found this entertainment center on Craigslist for a song.

Over the course of several weeks, I squeezed in time to turn it into this:

I'm sorry about the horrible pictures.  My photo-taking tools are craptastic.
The kitchen is intended for our 6 year old daughter, but knowing there is a boy coming up right behind her, I wanted a gender-neutral kitchen.
Why, for heaven's sake, if we want to have equality and go on and on about it, do we still sell kitchens to little girls and tools to little boys?  Honestly makes me CRAZY.  I spray painted some of the store-bought stuff so that they weren't pink and girly.  Cooking is for everyone!

I'll step off my soap box now.

But, really. What's the deal?

The electric coils are drip-line irrigation tubing. $5 for three times as much as I needed.  
I can use the rest as, you guessed it, drip-line!  Ha!

The faucet is an actual faucet that was on some clearance table.  
The sink is a generic steel bowl you can find everywhere.  
I didn't glue it in on purpose . . . I'm sure it will be filled with all kinds of "recipes" that will need to be washed out.

Under the sink is a bottle of Kitchen Cleaner (water).
Wishful thinking?  Probably.

The former CD/DVD shelving was torn out and replaced with wooden shelves to form a pantry;
a larger pantry than the one in my actual kitchen.

The stainless steel fridge is actually contact paper!  It is thin, like regular contact paper, so I used shipping tape around the edges to protect it and to keep it from peeling.

Let's hope this kitchen lasts a bit longer than the last one!

Leavenworth: Christmas!

I'll save you from me.
Suffice it to say, everyone was happy--even those of us with the stomach flu.  
That wasn't the best.
Besides the digestive issues, it was a happy time.
He got a giant teddy bear from his sister and
immediately named him BoBo Bear.
Stockings are exciting!

Poor sick girl. :(
The best-received gifts of the day were those given by siblings.

A stereo with turntable.
Once again, a gift from a sibling.

I adore this picture of Daddy teaching his son how to play
with the replica of a toy he had as a child.

The post unwrapping semi-organized piles.
Reading the baby his Christmas book.
We needed a new one because the old one was loved to death.

Christmas Cookie decorating, sponsored by the hotel.

The next day.  Everyone was healed.

The cutest baby ever.

Pretty frosted mountains, weird kids.

The family in Bavaria.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Leavenworth; Christmas Eve

We brought a few decorations to Christmas-up our hotel room.  I wanted to have a tree, but couldn't find our small one.  I figured I'd be able to pick up something cheap at a store, but there were none to be found!  We had to have a tree!
I walked into the lobby of the hotel and took a tree from the center of one of the breakfast tables.
The children were aghast that I would "steal" from the hotel.
I reassured them that the tree was still in their hotel and it would be back in the center of that table by midday.  No one would be the wiser.
Still, the children laughed in their shock at their mother's audacious thievery.
And on Christmas, no less!

Eliza had received a sweet nativity made from wooden blocks from her church leader.  We talked about each character in the scene as a sort of advent.  That small act helped bring Christ into our celebration. 
 Daddy read Luke 2, as usual, but this time it struck me.  We were physically very close in our hotel room and our children are old enough, collectively, to actually sit and listen to the Christmas story.
Remember, we were in the very hotel where we had celebrated our honeymoon all those years ago.  Looking at my husband and being in that place, I easily drew up the memory of our first Christmas when he read the Christmas story aloud to just me.  In 1997, I dreamed about the scene that was playing out in front of me; my good husband reading the treasured scripture to a room full of children.
This is precisely the place I've always wanted to be.

Filling stockings with trinkets and candies all wrapped in crinkly cellophane proved to be a formidable challenge to Santa.  With sleeping heads mere inches from the tree, the process was interrupted more than once with a panicked switching off of the tiny lights and a hushed, "Go back to sleep.  It isn't morning yet."

Santa, it was proven, could in fact find us even though we were far from home.
He didn't bring us all of his presents, though, because there was no room in our hotel to put them.
Did you know Santa sends emails?
I didn't either, but we got one.  The children were thrilled to learn that there would be one more gift upon our return home.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Leavenworth; The Second Day

Our second day in Leavenworth was perfect.
First, of course, we had a marvelous and giant breakfast in the hotel lobby.
As Dad and I were getting ready, the kids piled on a bed to watch that weird belly button song.
What can I say?  It's weird, but they love it. 

Because it was Christmas week, the hotel hosted all kinds of activities.  
The first was making gingerbread houses.  

While the girls were gluing away, Isaac snuck in a workout.  
He has a major competition in just two weeks so he can't afford to take time off.

His brother joined him and taught that elliptical a thing or two!


Then it was time to head downtown.  It wasn't far from our hotel so we walked.
Would you just LOOK at this adorable main street?!
I'm not even kidding when I tell you that I kept getting choked up just looking at the adorable balcony woodwork, the murals, the swaths of cedar greenery, the shutters and all.

My little guy loved running around in the brisk, wintery air while the girls shopped.

No, the guys shopped, too.  Not to shop, necessarily, but to see all of the clever, creative, tasty and fun things in the shops.  We ate sack lunches and crock-pot dinners, but we did let all of the children buy a fancy chocolate from a little candy store.  Dad took this snapshot of our little guy by the giant bear outside the chocolate shop.

Isaac doing a little jig on the way back to the hotel.

And a quick selfie to make sure there is record that Mama was there.

We went back to the hotel for an afternoon nap.  The cleaning ladies were nearly to our room, so we camped out in the lobby by the fire.

We off and on snoozed, chatted and read until we thought for sure they were done with our room.
After an hour, the cart was gone, so we headed back to our room . . . just to find that they were still there, but the cart had gone around the corner!  We sat in the hallway, where I had half mirthful and half horrified tears falling down my checks because the whole hotel smelled like broccoli from my crock pot. So embarrassing!

After forever, they still weren't done.  We'd had our rest in the lobby, so we decided to leave again.  I needed to get something from the grocery store that I'd forgotten.  The kids wanted to go back to the hotel to go swimming so they dropped me off in town for the last-minute secret Christmas purchases.

I know!  A whole hour in Leavenworth by myself!  I touched all the fragile things and went into all of the "boring" stores.  I smelled stuff and stared too long and walked really fast because no one needed to keep up.  Luxe to be sure!

I was leaving just as dark was coming on.  I veritably ran back to the hotel to retrieve the family,
"Come ON, Come ON!  You guys have GOT to see this!"

Justin's pictures were way better, but I don't have access to those.  
It doesn't matter; pictures don't capture it anyway.  
Pictures only give us a trigger for our memories.

Here's one Justin posted on Facebook of Isaac gazing at the lights.
So twinkly.

We wandered around until we were frozen, then headed back.  It was Christmas Eve, after all!  We had more to do before Santa could make his deliveries.

Walking with her Christmas muff.